Sep 30, 2013

Justin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience Part II Review

Well, it's here! Justin Timberlake dropped Part II. I'm really loving this "view" (if you will) of 20/20. There are several tracks that I am already eager to replay over and over again (and have!) — something that was seriously lacking for me on the first album. (With the exception of fast forwarding to the chopped part of "Pusher Love Girl".)

One complaint a lot of us had was that Part I sounded like a cut and pasted attempt at something new. Which, wouldn't really have been a problem if Future Sex/Love Sounds wasn't so dramatically different from Justified, and if we hadn't been waiting six years for this album to drop. And while I love the sentimental value "Mirrors" holds, you can literally sing "Cry Me a River" to the tune and it matches. With Part II, there are songs on this album that are unlike anything I've ever heard him perform before, which makes me happy. R&B JT is great, but I'm surprised and thrilled that he incorporated more rock into this one. 

Early favorites are "Drink You Away" -- vocals are very similar to his track "Love Don't Love Me" (from the Bad Boyz II OST — yes, I know of this song due to my first job being an usher at the movie theater) — but the song itself is a far cry from typical JT/Timbo. "Not a Bad Thing" is 11 minutes long, broken into two sections. You get to enjoy the beauty in Justin's voice that is sometimes overshadowed by thick bass lines. Not on this one. It's gorgeous. Yes, I can admit, I thought the lyrics were a little cheesy, but the melody is addictive, and he curses in the chorus so that has to account for something, right?

That being said, I don't think Justin made these albums to necessarily get airplay on radio. He couldn't have. There are barely any radio-friendly singles on either album, by typical standards. As an artist, you're usually pusheRd to create music the rest of the world wants to hear, given that's what makes you the cold hard cash. (emember the Clive Davis and Kelly Clarkson drama?) Because Justin is such a massive superstar, and frankly doesn't need another dime, he has the ability to go into a studio and record music unlike other artists are able to: with the freedom to produce a sound he wants, without having to worry about if it "fits the mold" or being told, creatively, that he needs to change X, Y or Z. For lack of better words, he does what he wants. He's living the artistic dream as a mainstream artist. 

I don't have a review of every track, but here are some thoughts on the ones I do:

1. Gimme What I Don't Know (I Want)
2. True Blood
Nothing to see here. My least favorite track. I don't understand the tempo of this one. Or really what's going on with this one in general. It's confused and should be named schizophrenic. 
3. Cabaret
Sounds like it was produced in the same vein as "Don't Hold the Wall." This is a quintessential JT/Timothy Mosely collaboration.
4. TKO
I already wrote a review of this one here
5. Take Back the Night
We've heard this one. It hasn't taken off, but frankly this song is the only one that can transcend the generation gap. Mostly because it sounds like Michael Jackson wrote it.
6. Murder (featuring Jay-Z)
HOV makes his obligatory appearance. It's too repetitive for me. Leaves something to be desired. 
7. Drink You Away
Has the heaviest rock influence on the entire album. Sounds similar to a John Mayer track, from the Battle Studies era, and it's working for him. 
8. You Got It On
Bring on the autotune! Justin doesn't need it, but he knows how to use it to his advantage. 
9. Amnesia
Grandiose intro, a la "Pusher Love Girl."  
10. Only When I Walk Away
Kind of sounds like a Lenny Kravitz record.
11. Not a Bad Thing
This is easily my favorite track on the album, which is ironic because my favorite track on Part I is #11 as well (from the exclusive Target release — "Dress On"). The lyrics are beautiful, Justin's voice is the focus, and it's more guitar than synthesizer or bass.

What do you think about Part II? What tracks do you hope get released as singles? 

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